Lower to Upper Paleolithic


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Describes human evolution, biological and cultural, to the capacity to make tools and create art.

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Lower to Upper Paleolithic

  1. 1. Precursors of Civilization Lower to Upper Paleolithic
  2. 2. Introduction to Prehistory <ul><li>If art is part of the humanities, then we need to know when and how humans developed </li></ul><ul><li>Our ancestors probably developed 3.7 million years ago, probably earlier </li></ul><ul><li>Toolmaking began possibly 1.5 million years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Skillful toolmaking began about 1 million years ago, as did the use of fire </li></ul><ul><li>Art and sculpture came late; about 30,000 years ago </li></ul>
  3. 3. Overview of the the Periods <ul><li>Pre-toolmaking hominins: Australopithecines (including “Lucy”) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Lucy” was Australopithecus afarensis, named after the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” </li></ul><ul><li>Lower Paleolithic: Choppers and Handaxes </li></ul><ul><li>Middle Paleolithic: Flake Tool Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Paleolithic: Specialized Tools, Rise of the Arts </li></ul><ul><li>Mesolithic: Rise of Settlements (Nittano, Japan) </li></ul><ul><li>Neolithic: Domestication of Plants and Animals </li></ul>
  4. 4. Lucy: a.k.a Australopithecus Afarensis <ul><li>No, no, not that Lucy! </li></ul><ul><li>Jeeves, can’t you get anything right? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Australopithecus Afarensis and Homo Sapiens <ul><li>Notice the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Apelike features, such as </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy brow ridge </li></ul><ul><li>Forward-projecting lower face </li></ul><ul><li>Long arms </li></ul><ul><li>Curved fingers </li></ul><ul><li>Humanlike features, like </li></ul><ul><li>S-shaped vertebrae </li></ul><ul><li>Bowl-shaped pelvis </li></ul><ul><li>Arched feet </li></ul><ul><li>Hands capable of manipulation </li></ul>
  6. 6. Homo habilis : The Handyman <ul><li>Notice its brow ridges and its sloping forehead </li></ul><ul><li>But its face is somewhat flatter </li></ul><ul><li>And its teeth are small </li></ul><ul><li>Average cranial capacity was 680 cubic centimeters </li></ul><ul><li>Compare that with Lucy’s kind: 440 cc. on average </li></ul><ul><li>Chimps average 400 cc </li></ul>
  7. 7. Homo habilis and the Oldowan Tradition <ul><li>Homo habilis was the first known toolmaker (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>His cranial capacity averaged 680 cubic centimeters, compared to 440 of A. afarensis’s skull </li></ul><ul><li>Hands were better adapted; fingers were not curved </li></ul><ul><li>Choppers (lower left) involved knapping a few flakes off the core </li></ul><ul><li>Both cores and flakes were used. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Homo erectus or ergaster <ul><li>Note: </li></ul><ul><li>Apelike but larger cranium </li></ul><ul><li>Postcranial Skeleton </li></ul><ul><li>Vertebrae: S Shaped </li></ul><ul><li>Ribcage: Not funnel shaped, now like ours </li></ul><ul><li>Pelvis: Bowl shaped </li></ul><ul><li>Angle of Thighbone </li></ul>
  9. 9. Homo erectus, the Acheulean Handaxe, and Fire <ul><li>Notice the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Homo erectus is fully bipedal </li></ul><ul><li>Cranial capacity is 1000 cc on average </li></ul><ul><li>Has learned to control fire (above left) </li></ul><ul><li>Signature tool: a well-designed handaxe, very symmetrical, with 25-75 retouches </li></ul><ul><li>This showed a sensitivity to aesthetics as well as function </li></ul><ul><li>Handaxe had multiple uses, from cutting to chopping to piercing. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Homo heidelbergensis or “Archaic” Homo sapiens <ul><li>Left: Skull. Note heavy brow ridge, prognathism </li></ul><ul><li>Right:: Artist’s conception of “Heidelberg Man” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Levallois Flake and Flaking Technique <ul><li>This is part of the Middle Paleolithic tradition of H.heidelbergensis </li></ul>
  12. 12. Manufacturing Levallois Cores and Flakes <ul><li>Knapper drew outline of flake on stone module </li></ul><ul><li>Strikes flake of desired shape </li></ul><ul><li>This required knowledge of the rock’s pattern of fracture </li></ul><ul><li>H. heidelbergensis prepared the rock beforehand </li></ul><ul><li>to control how it would break when it was struck and </li></ul><ul><li>so ensure that the right shape (e.g. cutting, perforation, piercing) was produced </li></ul>
  13. 13. Homo neanderthalensis or Neanderthals <ul><li>A controversial figure </li></ul><ul><li>Some say they were a lot like modern humans, and that we might have their genes </li></ul><ul><li>Others would say that they were too different from us to even be our ancestors. </li></ul><ul><li>Top: a preconceived notion of Neanderthal as “caveman,” taken from an arthritic old man of 40 years. </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom: artists conception of Neanderthal child </li></ul>
  14. 14. Humanlike Attributes of Neanderthals I <ul><li>In Shanidar, Iraq, the Neanderthals show signs of compassion. </li></ul><ul><li>One individual had a disability, yet lived to be 40 years </li></ul><ul><li>They also seemed to have a conception of an afterlife </li></ul><ul><li>This is evidenced by flower pollen covering this bone </li></ul>
  15. 15. Humanlike Attributes of Neanderthals II <ul><li>Conception of an afterlife </li></ul><ul><li>Was shown by the actual burial site at La Ferrassie, France (upper) </li></ul><ul><li>There were seven tombs </li></ul><ul><li>The tombs included a man, a woman and several children </li></ul><ul><li>They were lying side by side (above). </li></ul><ul><li>Below is an artist’s conception of a burial taking place in Shanidar, Iraq </li></ul>
  16. 16. Mousterian Tradition <ul><li>This tool tradition is positively identified with Neanderhals </li></ul><ul><li>Le Moustier, France is a Neanderthal site </li></ul><ul><li>The tools belong to Middle Paleolithic </li></ul><ul><li>More sophisticated than Oldowan or Acheulean, both Lower Paleolithic </li></ul><ul><li>François Bordes categorizes the Mousterian into 63 types </li></ul>
  17. 17. Mousterian Tool Assemblage <ul><li>Sample includes scrapers, points, and handaxes </li></ul><ul><li>Other types included notched objects (probably for spear shafts), burins for engraving, and knives </li></ul>
  18. 18. Châtelperronian: First of the Upper Paleolithic <ul><li>Here are the later tools made by Neanderthals, the Châtelperronian </li></ul><ul><li>Compare the Châtelperronian point with the scraper and burin from the Mousterian (above) </li></ul><ul><li>Blades, characteristic of the Upper Paleolithic, are at least twice as long as they are wide, and usually longer (below) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Upper Paleolithic: The Great Leap Forward? <ul><li>Upper Paleolithic probably begins about 50,000 BP </li></ul><ul><li>Primary Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from flake tools to blades, and more recent sites yield small and smaller blades--microblades </li></ul><ul><li>Populations subsist on greater range of animal and plant species </li></ul><ul><li>The sites themselves increase in size </li></ul><ul><li>Increase of bone, antler, ivory, shell, and other materials for tools </li></ul>
  20. 20. Upper Paleolithic: Associated Attributes <ul><li>Associated Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Greater use of “imported” goods: </li></ul><ul><li>Raw materials found that are obtainable only at great distances from inhabited sites. </li></ul><ul><li>This either suggests long distance travel or, more likely, trade. </li></ul><ul><li>More elaborate burials, with grave goods. </li></ul><ul><li>Appearance and elaborate use of symbols and works of art. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Upper Paleolithic: The Blades <ul><li>Blades begin roughly 40,000 Years BP </li></ul><ul><li>Comparative efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Levallois cores may produce 5 flakes </li></ul><ul><li>Many more blades could be produced from same core--and with longer cutting edge </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike other traditions, blade traditions are shorter lived </li></ul>
  22. 22. Upper Paleolithic Assemblage <ul><li>Upper Paleolithic Tools (left to right): biconical bone point, Perigordian flint blade, prismatic blade core, Solutrean Willow leaf point, double-row barbed harpoon point (various sites in France) </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Solutrean Points <ul><li>Note the following </li></ul><ul><li>There is an aesthetic as well as a practical side to these points </li></ul><ul><li>There is a conscious effort to shape them like a laurel leaf </li></ul><ul><li>There is variation in design. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Magdalenian Tool Tradition <ul><li>Notice that the harpoon heads (to the left) are made of bone; ivory and wood also become important materials in addition to stone </li></ul><ul><li>Art is also coming into being, as evidenced by this horse’ head carving to the right. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Themes of Upper Paleolithic <ul><li>The following themes dominate the Upper Paleolithic: </li></ul><ul><li>Hunting: large animals dominate the themes of the art, especially the caves </li></ul><ul><li>Fertility: sexuality dominates other art, especially the Venus figurines </li></ul><ul><li>Inference: lacking writing, we can only infer past cultures from those of the present or recent past </li></ul>
  26. 26. Upper Paleolithic Art: Cave Paintings <ul><li>This illustration from Lascaux Cave, S. France, shows how much fine detail goes into animals (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Humans in contrast are drawn, if at all, as stick figures, such as shown by this sketch at Lascaux (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>The bird-like stick the man is dropping could represent a totem or symbol of a clan </li></ul><ul><li>All this, of course, is based on speculation and inference from living cultures. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Site Analysis: Cosquer <ul><li>Cosquer, near Marseille, S. France </li></ul><ul><li>Land animals comprise horses (left) , ibex, and others </li></ul><ul><li>Sea animals also are included, such as great auks or penguins (left), seals, and jellyfish </li></ul><ul><li>Style: extensive use of black pigment and </li></ul><ul><li>The cave is now under water </li></ul>
  28. 28. Site Analysis: Chauvet <ul><li>Chauvet is located in Ardeche Valley, S.E. France </li></ul><ul><li>Cave includes several species of animals together; depicted using red or black pigment (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Animals depicted: mammoths, horses, pigs, and many others </li></ul><ul><li>Predatory animals, such as this row of lions (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Bear skull and skeletons also found </li></ul>
  29. 29. Site Analysis: Pech-Merle: Handprints <ul><li>Handprints are found everywhere, but Pech-Merle is full of them </li></ul><ul><li>The hand was pressed against the rock and stenciled with ochre (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Significance unknown; possibly a signature of artist, hand signals, or part of initiation rite </li></ul><ul><li>A spotted horse, again with a handprint </li></ul>
  30. 30. Site Analysis: Trois-Freires <ul><li>This is interpreted as a man dressed as a stag </li></ul><ul><li>Could also be an animal god </li></ul><ul><li>Most common: interpreted as a shaman </li></ul><ul><li>Namely, a sorcerer performing his magic (see box, p. 35) </li></ul><ul><li>Or manipulating supernatural forces according to his wishes </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Trois-Freres in Arage, S.W. France. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Site Analysis: Lascaux <ul><li>The most famous site: Lascaux </li></ul><ul><li>Wide range of animals with humans as stick figures </li></ul><ul><li>Bison charging at man has elicited many interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>Bird: a totem of the man’s clan? Why depicted as a stick figure? </li></ul>
  32. 32. Lasaux: Other Animals <ul><li>“ Chinese horse”: interpreted as pregnant because of sagging middle (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Scene from “Room of the Bulls” </li></ul><ul><li>Technique: object is first outlined, then filling it n with pigment </li></ul><ul><li>Pigment may have been blown inside the outlines, using hollow bones </li></ul><ul><li>These bones, with traces of pigment, have been found in the caves, providing the context for this interpretation. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Site Analysis: Altamira, Spain <ul><li>Location, Pyrenees, NE Spain </li></ul><ul><li>Natural bulges of rocks matched contours of various animals </li></ul><ul><li>Standing bison shows various shadings of ochre, giving three-dimensional impression </li></ul><ul><li>Painted ceiling of animals </li></ul><ul><li>Limbs are of black manganese; bodies are of ochre with shading </li></ul>
  34. 34. Upper Paleolithic Art: Portable Sculpture <ul><li>Figurines also figure prominently in Upper Paleolithic art </li></ul><ul><li>Top: Venus figure from Willendorf, Austria; this is the style of figurine most often represented </li></ul><ul><li>The lower figure is a frieze imitation of a Paleolithic statuette </li></ul><ul><li>She is somewhat thinner than the “classic” Venus </li></ul><ul><li>She is also holding a cone-shaped object, which some archaeologists interpret as a cornucopia </li></ul>
  35. 35. The Variety of Venus Carvings <ul><li>This shows the variety of Venus carvings in the Upper Paleolithic’ </li></ul><ul><li>One holds a “cornucopia” symbolizing plenty, according to one interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>One is quite thin (lower right) </li></ul><ul><li>Patricia Rice identified 150 types </li></ul>
  36. 36. Upper Paleolithic: Dolni Vestonice <ul><li>Dolni Vestonice is a classic Paleolithic site </li></ul><ul><li>The site has the Venus statuette with large breasts and even larger hips </li></ul><ul><li>This dwelling of hide and mammoth bone was typical in this site </li></ul><ul><li>However, another set of figurines inspires curiosity. Read on. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Dolni Vestonice: Art and Burial <ul><li>Ivory plaque with human head was found in 1936 </li></ul><ul><li>Left half of lip and eye lower than ones on right </li></ul><ul><li>Figurine of a woman’s head found in 1948 (left) </li></ul><ul><li>Left side was also distorted. </li></ul><ul><li>Burial site was excavated from under 2 scapula of mammoth </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis suggested nerve damage on left side of skeletal face of an elderly woman </li></ul><ul><li>Were these all of the same women? The original excavator thinks so. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Commonalities of the Paleolithic I <ul><li>The Paleolithic is the longest of all stone ages, covering roughly 2 million years. </li></ul><ul><li>Several hominin species lived side by side </li></ul><ul><li>The last non-modern form, the Neanderthal, died off about 30,000 BCE (Before Common Era) </li></ul><ul><li>They were all foragers, or hunters or gatherers </li></ul>
  39. 39. Commonalities of the Paleolithic II <ul><li>The first signs of the arts—cave murals and portable sculptures-- begins in the Upper Paleolithic </li></ul><ul><li>Next, we will look briefly at the Mesolithic, which included the first settlements </li></ul><ul><li>Then focus on the Neolithic, especially the Fertile Crescent </li></ul>